Celebrating brands who take a deep look inside and choose ‘human first’ innovation and marketing strategies

What is a Gutsy Brand?

 

What is a Gutsy Brand

Some brands just seem to ‘get’ people. They appear to connect in all the right ways and have loyal, avid followers.

When we look at what they have in common, we see some similarities. We notice that they went beyond the superficial and the comfortable, that they dove deep to understand people at new, multi-dimensional levels, and that they acted on what they discovered.

Above all we see four repeating characteristics:

  • They lead with empathy
  • They demonstrate a pioneering spirit
  • They stand behind bold ideas
  • They seize opportunities where others see tradeoffs

At GutCheck, this is what we call a Gutsy Brand, and we love to help tell their stories to inspire others to follow their example.

What’s New From Gutsiest Brands

Check Out Our ‘It Takes Guts’ Infographic
Explore what it means to be a Gutsy Brand and the very tangible benefits of being one

Discover Our Inaugural Gutsiest Brands Podcast

We invite leaders from leading global brands to ‘spill their guts’ and share stories of how they found success by putting humans at the core of their decision-making

Welcome To The Gutsiest Brands Podcast

Episode #8
The METAIL Economy with Joel Bines

Regarded as one of the world’s leading operational strategists with a 30-year track record of improving performance at retailers, brands, and consumer companies, we are delighted to welcome Joel Bines, author of The METAIL Economy, to the Gutsiest Brands podcast to discuss being revolutionary, the demographic of one, and why your customers MUST be your north star.

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In our latest episode, our listeners will hear valuable advice from Joel Bines, managing director and co-head of the global Retail practice at the business consulting firm AlixPartners, as he sits down with GutCheck CEO, Rob Wengel. Tune in to see why being disruptive is not the same as being revolutionary; the impact of fragmenting demographics and the need for micro-targeting; the power of staying the course; the 6 Cs of cultivating and serving highly informed and empowered customers; and why you should always seek to work with people who tell you the truth, however hard it is to hear.

Joel’s Bio:

Joel Bines is managing director and co-head of the global Retail practice at the business consulting firm AlixPartners. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading operational strategists with a 30-year track record of improving performance at retailers, brands, and consumer companies. Among the media that look to him for analysis are The New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, and the Wall Street Journal. Joel is the author of The Metail Economy, a book on business strategies to thrive in the me-centric consumer revolution.

Rob
Wengel

CEO, GutCheck

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Joel Bines

Managing Director, AlixPartners
Author, The METAIL Economy
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Episode #7
A Story Behind Every Number with Nick Graham & Brigette Wolf

With fantastic stories from Mondelēz International’s brand family – including Cadbury and Oreo – Nick Graham (Global Head of Insights & Analytics) and Brigette Wolf (Vice President, Global Head of SnackFutures) sit down with GutCheck’s Chief Revenue Officer, Jess Gaedeke, to discuss Mondelēz International’s groundbreaking innovation, authentic LGBTQ+ community engagement, and the need to remember the people behind the data.

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Tune into this new episode and join us as we learn what it really means to be a strong leader, what the “Empathy Illusion” is, and to take a closer look at fantastic marketing campaigns such as the groundbreaking and memorable Oreo Proud Parent campaign, and the innovative and clever way Cadbury India leveraged AI to help hundreds of local businesses.

Nick’s Bio:

Nick is the Global Head of Insights & Analytics for Mondelēz International, Inc. (makers of brands such as Oreo, Cadbury Dairy Milk, LU, Milka, Toblerone, Sour Patch Kids, and Trident) where his team uses a blend of data science and deep human insight to drive better business decisions. He has over 20 years’ experience in insights & analytics and prior to joining Mondelēz in 2021 spent almost a decade with PepsiCo in both global and local market leadership roles .

Brigette’s Bio:

Brigette serves as Vice President, Global Head of SnackFutures, Mondelēz International’s innovation and venture hub which launched in 2018 as part of the global snack leader’s growth agenda.

SnackFutures focuses on building and growing well-being and premium brands through a model of Invent and Venture. In her role, Brigette is responsible for fueling the company’s innovation pipeline by creating and launching SnackFutures brands as well as identifying and solidifying strategic investment opportunities. Brigette also oversees the new start-up engagement program CoLab, which launched in 2021 to discover and collaborate with emerging entrepreneurs.

Brigette has been with Mondelēz International for 7 years, and in that time served as the Senior Director of Global Platform Innovation for the Gum & Candy and Biscuits categories as well as the Senior Brand Manager for Global belVita innovation. Prior to this Brigette was with Kraft Foods for almost 10 years having served as the Global Innovation Manager for Oreo and the Brand Manager of several of the pizza and meal brands.

Nick
Graham

Global Head of Insights & Analytics, Mondelēz International

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Brigette
Wolf

VP, Global Head of SnackFutures
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Episode #6
Holding The Door Wide Open with Denise Woodard

There is so much to unpack in our latest Gutsiest Brands podcast where GutCheck’s Chief Revenue Officer,  Jess Gaedeke, sits down with Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO of Partake Foods. Listen in as they talk food allergies, diversity and inclusivity, grassroots campaigns for change, and Denise’s connections to Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Beyoncé.

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As the first Black woman to raise over $1M in funding for a food and beverage company, Denise is a champion of inclusivity that extends way past her primary business interests. She partners with HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to expand access to opportunities in her sector, and she partners nationally with No Kid Hungry to support food stability and equality. In between all of that, she found time to share her journey with us, including hot takes on learning from entrepreneurs, picking investors who align with your vision, and investing in the change you want to see.

Denise’s Bio:

Denise is the Founder and CEO of Partake Foods, a natural food company that was inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies. Launched in 2017, Partake’s first product — delicious, better for you, allergy-friendly cookies — can now be found in more than 8,000 retailers including Target, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and Whole Foods Market.

Denise is the first Black woman to raise more than $1 Million publicly for a CPG food startup. To date, the company has raised over $7.5M from investors including HER, Rihanna, CircleUp Growth Partners, FF2032 and Marcy Venture Partners.
Prior to launching Partake, Denise spent a decade in consumer packaged goods at various Fortune 100 companies, most recently as the Director of National Sales for Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands division. She lives in New York City with her husband, Jeremy, and daughter, Vivienne. She graduated with her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from Arizona State University.

Jess
Gaedeke

CRO, GutCheck

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Denise
Woodard

Founder & CEO, Partake Foods
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Episode #5
Find Courage through Emotion with Brandon Larson

You’re going to find so much richness and insight into what it means to be gutsy and to truly lead with empathy in this interview between Brandon Larson, Director of Brand Strategy & Communications at Microsoft, and Jess Gaedeke, CRO at GutCheck, we recommend you stop reading this intro and go straight to your favorite platform to listen in!

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Pulling from his experience at Microsoft, Etsy, Johannes Leonardo, and McCann Worldgroup, Brandon shares stories and examples that demonstrate the deep value of leading with empathy. He shares why being human-centric means ‘thinking outside the brand’, encourages us to reflect on who our real customers are, recounts how Etsy stayed true to their mission during their IPO, and reveals a fantastic definition of what it means to be gutsy.

Brandon’s Bio

Brandon describes his career as brand strategist as working “at the intersection of strategy, technology, and psychology” which enables him to make an impact by pairing the digital experience with an understanding of human behavior. Brandon has helped to transform some of the world’s leading companies as well as launch them.

Jess
Gaedeke

CRO, GutCheck

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Brandon
Larson

Director, Brand Strategy & Communications, Microsoft
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Episode #4
This Is Your Life with Lauren Wang

Jess Gaedeke, GutCheck’s CRO and former Nielsen Leader, sits down with Lauren Wang, the founder and CEO of The Flex Company – the top-selling sustainable period-care brand that is blazing a trail by making periods more comfortable – to talk entrepreneurship, gutsiness, empathy, and influencing.

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In perhaps our most empathy-forward discussion yet, Lauren Wang shares her inspiring story about how, after suffering for 15 years with infections from menstrual products, she decided to change the status quo, not just for herself, but for menstruators everywhere. Listen in to discover her obstacle-strewn path to success, her challenges in moving from D2C to mainstream retail, and, fascinatingly, how she convinced people who don’t menstruate to put their money behind her and her product.

Lauren’s Bio

Lauren Schulte Wang launched The Flex Co. in 2016, with the dream of transforming the lives of people with periods. After suffering from chronic infections for 15 years related to tampon use, it dawned on Lauren that it was time to change the status-quo. She set out to create period products that were more innovative, sustainable, and made for the 21st century.

Lauren frequently speaks on women’s health and entrepreneurship, and has been featured in TechCrunch, The New Yorker, WIRED, The Washington Post, and NPR.

Lauren is a member of YPO and a graduate of Y Combinator, and she gives back to her startup roots by mentoring entrepreneurs through both organizations, as well as with the Norrsken Foundation. Prior to founding The Flex Co., Lauren spent over a decade marketing leading consumer brands for companies including Coca-Cola, Upwork, and IBM, and advocating for issues she’s passionate about. She was the first in her family to graduate college, working full-time to earn her business degree from Georgia State University.

Jess
Gaedeke

CRO, GutCheck

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Lauren
Wang

CEO & Founder, The Flex Company
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Episode #3
How To Grow Companies with Kristin Luck

Jess Gaedeke, GutCheck CRO and San Francisco 49ers superfan, speaks with serial entrepreneur Kristin Luck, Founder of ScaleHouse, President of ESOMAR, and ‘cat with 13 lives’, about scaling businesses, empathetic entrepreneurship, the benefit of female investing representation in male-dominated industries – like porn – and procuring silverware from Denny’s!

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You’re going to laugh a lot and learn a lot in this wild conversation with Kristin Luck, who was once fired from Dairy Mart before going on to build and scale three technology companies with private equity backed exits! Listen in to discover how a now leading kombucha brand disrupted the market through an empathetic approach, why it takes guts to grow and scale a business, the importance of having a strong brand evangelist, and why, with 85% of purchase decisions being made by women, the investment community could benefit greatly from having more women in senior roles.

Kristin’s Bio

Kristin Luck is known for building innovative technology led companies that scale quickly through non-traditional sales and marketing techniques.

She serves as an advisor and growth strategist to a slew of cutting-edge marketing and analytics technology and services firms through her growth strategy and M&A advisory firm, ScaleHouse. She is a founder focused on helping fellow founders and executive teams scale and monetize their businesses and works frequently with firms in international markets to execute their entry into the U.S.

Kristin has consistently driven triple digit YOY performance improvement to leading marketing tech and services firms including The Harris Poll, Voxpopme, CanvsAI and SightX. Her work has been recognized in both the commercial (Fast Company, Forbes) and academic press (Research World, Journal of Brand Strategy) where she explores emerging marketing and growth strategy trends. She is consistently ranked as one of the top 100 sales and branding experts to follow on social media.

Jess
Gaedeke

CRO, GutCheck

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Kristin
Luck

Founder, ScaleHouse
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Episode #2
Irrational Expectations with Karen Howland

Jess Gaedeke, GutCheck CRO, former leader at Nielsen, and current turtleneck aficionado, speaks with Karen Howland, Managing Director of CircleUp Equity (a tech-powered investment platform) about which brands she believes have guts, which she feels a special connection to, and why we should have irrational expectations in business.

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In this unique episode we take a look at how an innovative investment firm is using a blend of technology and human experience to help entrepreneurs stand behind their bold ideas and pioneer new paths.

Jess and Karen show how being grounded in empathy and creating highly personalized experiences lead brands to sustainable growth, and how Circle Up invests in companies that have traditionally been denied access to capital.

Karen’s Bio

Karen joined CircleUp in 2018 and serves as Managing Director. Before joining CircleUp, she served as an independent consultant providing financial services to small-to-mid sized consumer-centric companies. Prior to that, she spent over 15 years at top-tier international investment firms, including Citadel, Barclays Capital, and UBS where she held positions in the Investment Banking and Equity Research divisions focusing on the consumer and retail sectors. Mrs. Howland received her B.S. from Tulane University.

Jess
Gaedeke

CRO, GutCheck

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Karen
Howland

Managing Director, CircleUp Equity
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Episode #1
People, Purpose, and Provenance with Craig Dubitsky

Rob Wengel the CEO of GutCheck, founder of Experience Innovation, and iced tea drinker extraordinaire sits down with Craig Dubitsky, Chief Innovation Strategist at Colgate-Palmolive, the founder of  Hello Products and likely the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet.

Craig is obsessed with design, transformational brands, and elevating the everyday things around us.

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In this inaugural episode, Craig and Rob take a spirited and fast-paced look at the importance of being human-centric in designing and marketing everyday products.

From how method soap was launched to the reason why his favorite book is an anthology of design patents, Craig reveals why every touch point between a brand and its audience matters, why being rooted in empathy is so important, and why you should reject those who tell you that you can’t do something.

Craig’s Bio

Craig is obsessed with design, transformational brands, and elevating the everyday things around us. He was an early investor and board member in method, the co-founder and creative lead at eos Products, the CMO of Popcorn, Indiana, and a board member of the Art Directors Club. He is Chairman of Lexicon’s Advisory Board because he digs names and was named to Advertising Age’s Creativity 50 as one of the Most Influential and Innovative Creative Thinkers and Doers. Craig’s a lover, not a fighter, and started Hello Brands because he was tired of hearing about a war in his mouth.

Rob
Wengel

CEO, GutCheck

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Craig
Dubitsky

Chief Innovation Strategist,
Colgate-Palmolive
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It Takes Guts!  

Explore our new infographic and see why being gutsy excites us so much

Bucking The Trend

See why, as humans, we love brands that demonstrate they are willing to go out on a limb, go against the flow, and dare to be different.

Seeing The Results

Following an empathy-first strategy does not mean you need to choose between people OR profits. Discover the real life results.

Doing What It Takes

Dive into the four key components it takes to be a Gutsy Brand and explore brands that have been highly successful by following these principles.

Are You Ready To Be Gutsy?

It’s not always easy to go out on a limb and put people first and foremost in your decision making.

At GutCheck, we empower research and marketing professionals with the insights they need to stand boldly behind their recommendations, and guide strategies that help bring their brands into more authentic connection with the people they serve. This is something we call Agile Human Experience Intelligence™.

We’d love to talk with you about how we can enable your brand to be gutsy through the power of Agile HXI.